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Riding Gain at WMAQ

First in a series of radio historical photos from the collection of John Schneider

How many engineers does it take to run a radio program? Apparently, it took four of them in 1925.

This scene from the WMAQ control room in Chicago shows four studio engineers hard at work in the days before consoles and audio processors.

The man on the left has his hand on the volume control of a Western Electric line amplifier, and is apparently “riding gain” on a studio broadcast.

The audio sources were carbon microphones in the studio, selected one at a time with telephone key switches on the audio panel.

There are two other Western Electric audio panels in the room, perhaps controlling Studio “B,” incoming remote phone lines or the outgoing feed to the transmitter.

Of interest are the horn monitor speakers and the row of batteries on the floor, which were the “A” and “B” voltage supplies for the audio panels.

In 1925, WMAQ was owned by the Chicago Daily News with its studios and transmitter located in the LaSalle Hotel. The station used a Western Electric 106A 1 kW transmitter that fed a “T” type antenna on the roof.

John Schneider is a lifetime radio history researcher. This is one in a series of photo features from his collection. Write him at[email protected]. Comment to[email protected]